30 June 2008

Bitterroot Extravaganza

Nothing so characterizes the nature of Montana and Butte America than the bitterroot (Lewisia rediviva). The state flower of Montana, its name is apt: in honor of Meriwether Lewis, and in honor of the plant's ability to flourish under harsh circumstances & revive when conditions are right. Here in the heart of America's largest Superfund site, bitterroots seem to be doing very well.

They were an important food for Indian tribes such as the Nez Perce and Salish, who collected and ate the boiled roots. They're not bad, and I think the prime time to dig them is when the leaves have wilted away but before the flower buds are formed.

I thought last year was a pretty good bitterroot year in Butte's environs, but this year is OUTSTANDING; probably better than 1997. They grow in the hills around our home in Walkerville, with some delightful patches extending west to Big Butte.

My old neighbor (now deceased) Donald "Gub" Brunell showed the "rock roses" to me the first year we moved into our house. They grow in barren, rocky places as well as among the grass and forbs. You'll find the occasional lone plant, but usually they grow in small clusters or patches:

And when they first bloom, the color is intense. Like so many fine things in life, the blooms quickly fade.

So live in the moment and enjoy them while you can!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Im so excited im headed too colorado and montana next week with my new Sevylor and your post just got me even more excited and inspired !